The newly abbreviated version MLB draft got underway on Thursday, and for the first time in a long time the Toronto Blue Jays found themselves in a great spot to make a splash. They had great luck from start to finish this year, and for the first time in recent memory they can walk away from the table as one of the bigger winners of the draft. Here's how their picks look as of now:
Rd. 1, 5th Overall: Austin Martin, INF/OF, Vanderbilt
It's rare that you can look at a draft and say that the fifth overall pick was the steal of the draft, but that may very well be the case here with Martin. Ranked in the top three by nearly every analyst, and as high as first by some, Austin shockingly found himself on the board still when the Blue Jays picked fifth overall.
He was announced as a shortstop on draft day, but Martin has the ability to be much more than that for the Blue Jays. Over the course of his career at Vanderbilt, he played just two games at shortstop, 12 games in left field, 13 games at second, 13 games at first, 25 in centerfield, and 65 at his primary position of third base.
There has been very high praise about the athleticism of this young man. With his combination of speed and defensive ability, he has drawn comparisons to names like Javier Baez and George Springer.
The 21 year old has a smooth, easy swing and can hit the ball effortlessly all over the field. He doesn't bring Vlad Jr. type power, but he has the ability to hit the ball to all fields with some pop, and can develop his swing more and more over time. His abilities at the plate have been compared to some of the games best, including Anthony Rendon and Alex Bregman.
While it may not have been the top of the rotation arm that the Jays needed, they are, in my opinion, walking away with the best player in the draft.
Rd. 2, 42nd Overall: C.J. Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State
C.J. Van Eyk is another incredible pick up for Toronto. He had previously been ranked in the 20's before struggling with his command this season. If he can iron out his command difficulties, then he could very well be a top three pitcher in this draft.
The 6'1 righty isn't crazy intimidating in stature, but with the ability to reach 95 MPH, he has the potential to dominate on the mound. He can also compliment that with a late breaking 12-6 curveball that drops 15-17 MPH.
Whether or not he can spend his career as a starter remains to be seen, but given his stuff, and Toronto's glaring hole in the bullpen, He could find himself in a prominant bullpen role within the next few years.
Rd. 3, 77th Overall: Trent Palmer, RHP, Jacksonville
If it weren't for Covid-19, Trent Palmer might not have been available to the Blue Jays at 77. After a good freshman season, Palmer struggled in his sophomore season, allowing more than double the amount of runs, and nearly double the amount of walks than his season prior. Something clicked for him to start 2020 however. After four starts, and 27.2 innings, Trent gave up just four runs and struck out a whopping 41 batters.
Palmer doesn't have the height that many starting pitchers do. He does however bring a four pitch combination, including a sinker that touches 96 MPH, that should stymie big league hitters.
Time will tell if Palmer is what he was in 2020, or it was just a flash in the pan. It is evident however, that the repertoire is there for him to become a nice piece in the Blue Jays bullpen at the very least.
Rd. 4, 106th Overall: Nick Frasso, RHP, Loyola Marymount
At 6'4, Nick Frasso is a daunting force on the mound. Couple that with the fact that he can touch speed of 97 MPH and he may turn out to be a great fourth round pick up. Based on his college stats, he may be better suited for a bullpen role in the major leagues.
He is an overpowering force on the mound, racking up 158 strikeouts in 125.1 innings in the NCAA. He does give up a lot of hits, but he did a much better job of getting guys out when he wasn't starting. In his sophomore season, 14 of Frasso's 19 appearances were out of the bullpen and he had a very respectable 2.22 ERA, a WHIP of 0.83, and a remarkable 11.6 K/9.
For value purposes, it would make sense to try and help Frasso in his development as a starter. If the Blue Jays want to compete in the near future though, it would make the most sense to see them put him in the bullpen right away. If that's the case, you could see him in the bullpen sooner rather than later.
Rd. 5, 136th Overall: Zach Britton, LF, Louisville
No, this isn't the Zach Britton that was once the most dominant closer in the MLB. This Zach Britton is a much more interesting draft pick for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was taken as high as he was so that the Jays could stay under the limit in their draft pool money, but there is still some redeeming factors of his game that may give him a chance.
Britton won't wow you with any part of his game. He has consistently hit around or above the .285 mark but has never really shown anything in terms of power numbers. He doesn't walk a whole lot, but his strikeout numbers aren't bad either, so he does make a fair amount of contact.
The one thing Britton became known for during his time at Louisville was his ability to hit in the clutch. He hit a whopping .377 in the sixth inning or later in his career, and was a .571 hitter coming off the bench. His ability to do so could make him a very valuable platoon piece off the bench.